Combined Charter/TWC customer service will get worse, not better, analysts say

After Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Time Warner Cable both endured middling scores on the American Customer Satisfaction Index's 2016 ranking of pay-TV companies, the ACSI Research Director Forrest Morgeson said not to expect improvement anytime soon now that the two companies are merged. 

"We've generally seen that when two service-providing companies that are already low in customer satisfaction merge, things tend to get worse, at least for the first year or two after the merger or purchase," said Forrest Morgeson, director of research at the American Customer Satisfaction Index. "So the expectation is not good for consumers."

"These are two companies that have been challenged to keep customer care at an acceptable level," added telecommunications industry analyst Jeff Kagan, speaking to the Columbus Dispatch. "The question is, will anything get worse or will it stay just the same. But it's not going to be better over the next year — or two or three."

Charter and TWC ranked near the bottom among a dozen companies in an ASCI survey of 12,710 consumers released last week focused on the broader telecom industry. 

On the zero-to-100 scale, the third leg of the "New Charter" consolidation, Bright House Networks, actually ranked near the top. 

Ironically, Charter stands to benefit form a similar merger dynamic. While Frontier's challenging integration process of the Verizon (NYSE: VZ) wireline assets it purchased in California, Florida and Texas has had a negative effect on new broadband subscribers, Charter has captured a number of dissonant subscribers in recent weeks. 

Speaking to the Dispatch, Charter spokesman Justin Venech noted that the MSO has been very much focused on improving customer care" in the last four years since CEO Tom Rutledge took over, adding 7,000 domestic workers to its payroll, for instance. 

Notably, however, Charter's score declined 5 percent year over year in the ACSI rankings — it was one of the few cable scores to go down, in fact. 

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